comscore Letters: Hawaii Labor Department must reopen for in-person assistance; Much thanks for help after Haleiwa flooding; Absolute incompetence with rail beyond belief | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Editorial | Letters

Letters: Hawaii Labor Department must reopen for in-person assistance; Much thanks for help after Haleiwa flooding; Absolute incompetence with rail beyond belief

It’s been approximately a year since the stay-at-home order went into effect, and many businesses had to shut down and lay off workers. Yet thousands of workers still have not received unemployment benefits due to the state’s failed unemployment system and the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations’ refusal to provide direct, in-person services.

DLIR still won’t say how many unemployed workers’ claims are backlogged and unpaid. The federal standard is that state labor departments should make payouts to at least 87% of claimants within 21 days. In Hawaii, by the end of 2020, only 45% of claimants had received timely UI payments.

These numbers do not include workers who have tried to apply for UI but who lacked computer access, skills or Wi-Fi, or need language assistance and are unable to apply. Those workers and those with unresolved claims would greatly benefit from in-person assistance. In fact, it may be the only way they will ever get benefits.

DLIR’s excuses are empty and an insult to unemployed claimants. It’s time that DLIR opens up its offices and provide direct, in-person services and assistance.

John Witeck

Kamehameha Heights


Tony, Tammy Moniz set good example after fire

Tony and Tammy Moniz are a wonderful example of giving a testimony out of a trial (“Kuliouou Fire destroys home of prominent surfer,” Star-Advertiser, March 18)!

>> Tony alerted us to the importance of checking our fire extinguisher regularly to make sure it is working.

>> Their experience teaches us the need to have “My Life in a Box” (an excellent book by Laurie Long): having all of our important papers in one secure box to be grabbed as we run out the door.

>> Their gratitude and appreciation to the love and support from our wonderful people in our community.

>> Their positive hearts of looking to the future with optimism and counting their blessings.

They are a remarkable loved couple, family and example to us all.

Suzanne Maurer

Hawaii Kai


Much thanks for help after Haleiwa flooding

I was one of the business operators affected by the Haleiwa flood (“Grassroots efforts help Hauula and Haleiwa after flooding,” Star-Advertiser, March 19).

From the bottom of my heart I want to give my sincere thanks to the entire community that graciously gave of their time, equipment and sweat to help all the businesses and residents clean up.

This is my third flood, and the community came through for Haleiwa.

I want to thank the many businesses that fed us for days: Stonefish Grill, Starbucks, Maya’s Tapas, Beet Box, Marian’s Catering, Poke for the People. I am sure there were more that I don’t know. Also, the family that went out to feed the people sheltering at the Waialua High & Intermediate School parking lot.

Also, Danny Angel of North Shore Christian Fellowship, The Mission, LDS Waialua, Salvation Army and the military that sent volunteers to help, and others who volunteered.

I know I speak for the many businesses and residents: Mahalo, mahalo, mahalo from the bottom of all our hearts!

Marilee Lyons



Absolute incompetence with rail beyond belief

The latest rail news is beyond belief, and that’s saying something (“Honolulu rail project’s price tag hits $12.4B,” Star-Advertiser, March 18).

Where in the world is Hawaii supposed to come up with an additional $3.6 billion? Buried in this article is the fact that the train’s wheels do not fit properly where the tracks cross, resulting in expensive fixes and another year delay to even reach Aloha Stadium. Why is the builder not held responsible for these continuing issues?

The absolute incompetency of the rail authority and builders of rail, combined with the vastly overbudget rail project (now $12 billion and counting), necessitates that this project be terminated at Middle Street immediately.

If anyone actually believes that this is the last of the budget increases for rail, I’ve got some beachfront property in Arizona to sell you.

Craig Meyers



Rail project: Just say no, buy e-vehicles instead

There’s no easy way to address this issue, but neither the construction nor operation of this rail project is economically viable. We know that. Stop throwing good money after bad.

Do this instead: Take the $3 billion shortfall and subsidize e-vehicle purchases for 150,000 low-income residents of Oahu. At $20,000 each (with federal subsidy of $7,500, that’s the price of a electric car). Stop the project immediately, dismantle construction and transform the corridor into bike (including e-bikes) routes instead.

Even if you were to continue subsidizing e-vehicle purchases every year, it would still be cheaper than subsidizing the operation of an unsustainable system that will not stop ballooning in price over the next 10 years.

Greg Galanos

Diamond Head


FTA’s rail subsidy no longer worth protecting

Your editorial said the rail project has to go to Ala Moana “to fulfill a funding agreement with the FTA” (“Clarity needed on rail’s future,” Star-Advertiser, Our View, March 21).

The Federal Transit Administration funding should always be put in context. It is $1.55 billion out of the current estimate of $12.4 billion.

We are being told the rail must go the whole 20 miles, and Hawaii taxpayers just have to pay the other $11 billion, all so we can keep the FTA happy. For years, this has hampered rethinking the project.

The tail is wagging the dog at HART, and we need to look out for ourselves. Using a nearly decade-old FTA agreement for a minor part of the cost as an excuse to press on to Ala Moana makes no sense.

If the FTA will not bend, tell it to keep its $1.55 billion and save many times that amount by shortening the route and getting it in operation years earlier.

Brian Barbata



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